Pilot Officer Ian Malcolm Scott
On 25th March 1925, Pilot Officer Ian Malcolm Scott lost his life on the eve of his 21st birthday, when his Sopwith Snipe (E6792) crash landed at Tilling Down, in a field adjoining allotments, after suffering engine trouble. He had only been at RAF Kenley for a short time, serving with 32 squadron.
Here is the full story from the ‘Surrey Mirror,’ Friday, 3rd April 1925:
THE AEROPLANE DISASTER
INQUEST ON OFFICER KILLED AT CATERHAM.
“There were particularly sad features about the death of Pilot-Officer Ian Malcolm Scott, of the Royal Air Force, Kenley Aerodrome, the victim of the aeroplane disaster at Tilling Down, Caterham, last week. The Coroner (Mr. P. J. Nightingale) held the inquest in the Medical Officer’s Room at the Aerodrome Hospital on Friday afternoon last week, and by a singular coincidence that day would have been the young officer’s twenty-first birthday.
He was to have gone on leave on the Thursday, so that he could have spent his coming-of-age birthday with his relatives. He was an orphan, and belonged to a family well-known at Stockport, and also had relatives in London and at Horley. He had been at the Kenley Aerodrome only about two months, going there direct from the Aviation School.
Mr. Bruce Aitken, solicitor (of London and Salfords, Horley), cousin of the deceased, watched the proceedings on behalf of the relatives. P.C. Newball acted as Coroner’s officer.
Charles Gerald Leslie Scott, of Leinster Square, Bayswater, London, gave evidence of identification, and said the deceased, who was his brother, would have been 21 on that day, March 27th.
LOUD ROARING NOISE.
Anthony Ayton, an ex-Police-sergeant, of 97, Beechwood-road, Caterham Valley, deposed that on Wednesday morning, March 25th, he was working on his allotment at Tilling Down when he heard a loud roaring noise. He had frequently heard the noises of aeroplanes, but this was an unusual noise. He looked up and saw the machine coming overhead. It just got over the hedge of the adjoining field, and then something went “bang, bang!” He thought it was going to land in the field, but the engine re-started, and it went up again slightly, but when it got across to the other side of the field there were two more bangs, and it just went over the hedge and then down between two trees, tearing right through them. The machine then went into the next field and pitched upon its nose and turned completely over. Witness ran to the spot and saw that the pilot was dead. Witness cut the straps that held the body in the seat, and pulled it clear of the wreckage, and then sent somebody down to the nearest telephone to send a message to the Aerodrome. Witness remained till the doctor and the police arrived.
William Henry Scrivener, a carpenter, of 44, Beechwood-road, Caterham Valley, and employed by Sir Bernard Greenwell, said on Wednesday morning about half-past ten, he was near Tilling Down Farm, when he noticed the aeroplane. It was making a tremendous roaring noise and also reports, and was only about thirty feet above the ground as it came over the field. Witness thought the pilot had got trouble with the engine. The machine was going up and down until it got over Tilling Down, and then he lost sight of it. Soon afterwards hr heard the engine restart, and there was more banging and then he heard the crash. He went directly to the spot to render assistance.
Flight-Lieut. Francis John Vincent, of the R.A.F., at Kenley Aerodrome, deposed that he saw the machine before he gave orders to the deceased to fly about ten o’clock. For about a quarter of an hour before taking to the air the deceased practised four runs and landing, and as far as witness could tell everything about the machine was perfectly all right. Undoubtedly if the machine had not been all right the deceased would not have carried on with it. Witness saw him go up, and also saw him make the practice runs, which were in accordance with his instructions. Witness took to the air later and did not see the crash.
In reply to the Coroner, witness said the deceased probably had some slight engine trouble, but the noises mentioned by the witnesses were quite usual and normal, with the engine of the rotary type, which was on the machine. It was quite usual to make a bang. It was very difficult to tell the cause of the actual crash, but witness thought the deceased never saw the trees at all.
Answering Mr. Bruce Aitken, the witness said in this immediate neighbourhood, airmen did experience air pockets owing to the valleys, but he did not think it could have happened in this case. It would have been possible if he had been down in the valley. There was no cowl on the aeroplane that would obstruct the pilot’s vision.
Squadron-Leader E. Brown the medical officer at the Kenley Aerodrome, gave evidence that he was called to the scene of the accident. Having described the injuries the doctor stated that death must have been absolutely instantaneous.
The Coroner, in summing up, said he thought it was very possible, as the Flight-Lieutenant had said, that the deceased did not see the trees. He would certify a verdict of “Accidental death.”
IAN MALCOLM SCOTT was born in Stockport in April 1904, one of four children born to William Scott and his wife Henrietta Louisa Latrobe Scott. Both of his parents had passed away by the time he was killed in the accident at Tillingdown Fields.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.